European Leaders Welcome Ukraine's Commitment to European Integration

Apr 22, 2013, 07:21 ET from Ukraine Monitor

BRUSSELS, April 22, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --

More European leaders on Monday welcomed the move by the European Parliament to extend its observation mission in Ukraine, with former European Commission President Romano Prodi saying that the extension "is proof that dialogue works better than attempts to isolate Ukraine."

Former President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Monday that the extension of the European Parliament mission by former Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski and former European Parliament President Pat Cox was "a very positive development because it shows that European institutions should engage more actively with Ukraine."

The mission's extension, which came after Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovuch pardoned convicted opposition politician Yuriy Lutsenko and five others, also resulted from the European Parliament's acknowledgement that Ukraine was making a good faith effort to pass reform legislation that will pave the way toward deeper European integration.

"My experience in PACE and developments in Ukraine in recent months show that dialogue is the answer, not threats," said Cavusoglu, speaking from Ankara. "Engagement works better than isolation in fostering the prospects for Ukraine's European integration and more reforms," he added.  

Prodi said he hoped the European Union and Ukraine would sign a far-ranging Association Agreement later this year.        

"With the recent pardon and release of Yuriy Lutsenko and others, and reforms being put through the parliament, Ukraine is showing itself to be serious and in good faith about European integration," said Prodi in a statement. "I have said in the past that Ukraine represents an opportunity for the European Union and progress toward a range of reforms should accelerate once Ukraine is brought into the European fold, starting with the signing of an Association Agreement."

Prodi stressed that Ukraine could be an attractive market for European exports as well as "a bridge between the EU and Russia." He said deeper European integration would help foster Ukraine's evolving democracy, which was in Europe's interests as well as Ukraine's.

"Europe," said Prodi, "needs another Poland, not another Belarus."

SOURCE Ukraine Monitor